The Madness of Count Cornelius

Michael Miller

FADE IN:

1 INT. HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT (19TH CENTURY) 1
Henry Fuseli’s painting ’Ezzelin and Meduna’ hangs on a wall. Ominous music crescendos as the subject of the painting becomes clearer.

2 INT. HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT 2
Scattered candles glow around a dark hotel chamber.
A middle aged count, CORNELIUS, awakens. A dead eyed goat bust hangs above his bed on the wall.
Cornelius rubs his head, disorientated. He notices a bra and a mysterious pair of shoes belonging to another man at his feet. He gets out of the bed, befuddled at being fully clothed, wanders to his son’s cot in the corner of the chamber. He finds a music box whistling a children’s tune.
A desk sits in front of a floor to ceiling window. A bouquet of flowers and letter placed on it draws Cornelius’ eye. He smiles.
Cornelius sits behind the desk and gazes out of the window. He muses; watches strangers and horse carriages commute. He scans the letter, written by his wife ALICE, it reads:
“Gone to get water”.
Cornelius lights a cigar and dabs a quill, begins to write a romantic love letter.
“My beloved…”
Rain pattering harshly against the window pane. The candles blink out. Darkness looms over the chamber.

3 INT. HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT 3
Cornelius awakens at the desk, again. Disoriented and confused. He looks back at his bed, then the cot. Empty.
Outside, Alice screams. Cornelius turns, knocks over his chair and struggles to unlock the door.

CORNELIUS:

Come on!

Cornelius manages to open it. He stares in shock at a seemingly endless hotel hallway. He ventures out.

4 INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT 4
Cornelius proceeds with caution. Three quarters of the way, he stops. Takes note of a macabre piece of art that hangs to his right; Francesco Goya’s “Saturn Devours His Child”. Unnerved, he continues to venture into the depths of the hall.
Cornelius reaches a room and slowly enters.

5 INT. HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT 5
Cornelius walks into the room; vacant, but architecturally similar to his own room. It appears to have been home to a fight. Tables flipped, a cot broken, paintings on the wall slanted and smeared in dried blood.
He explores the environment slowly, treading on the glass of a broken lantern, he winces. Approaches a deck towards the back wall which has been smashed in half. Cornelius crouches to examine it closer and finds a bloodied pair of women’s heels and a child’s music box, reaches for the latter and winds it. A distorted version of its original tune echoes against the walls of the bedroom.
Cornelius places the box in a vacant cot, turns to investigate the next door on his right. Unaware that Alice follows him from behind. Blood drips down her slender, battered legs.

6 INT. HOTEL HALLWAY – NIGHT 6
Cornelius proceeds down a long candlelit corridor, almost identical to the previous one, save for a small stretch before the doorway at its end.
He enters the enveloping darkness, lights a match and hears ominous whispers behind the door.

CHILD (O.S):

(whispers)
Mother is sleeping. Don’t wake her. She wouldn’t like that.

Cornelius sweats and shakes. Twists the doorknob.

7 INT. HOTEL DUNGEON – NIGHT 7
Cornelius opens the door, he finds bedroom much like his own. Covered in cobwebs, carved out of stone, dungeon like in design, lit now by wooden torches.
He removes a torch from the wall. Notices a desk with a child’s doll atop, a drink platter and goblet placed next to it. He opens a bottle of red wine. Pours it in the goblet, and takes a sip, shakes his hand.
Cornelius finds a letter in the desk draw. In his own handwriting, it reads:
“My beloved, if there is a hell, you are going there”.
Alice, relaxed and well, leans against the wall behind Cornelius. None the wiser, he tosses the paper to one side in aggression.

ALICE:

Are you not feeling up to dick, dear?

Cornelius turns and stumbles backwards, hits the wall.
Alice approaches with seduction, wraps her fingers around his neck. Cornelius stands frozen, stares back intensely.

ALICE:

Have you ever wondered if you’d rather see the ghost of a stranger or of someone you once loved?

Alice punctures Cornelius in the heart with a dagger. He drops to his knees. Plunges to the ground face first.

8 INT. HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT 8
Cornelius wakes in bed, profusely pants and sweats.
He finds his shirt is splattered in blood. A knock on the door. Cornelius nervously smiles as Alice’s voice penetrates from the corridor.

ALICE (O.S):

I say Cornelius, could you please open the door?

Cornelius leaps from the bed.

CORNELIUS:

Yes, but of course!

Cornelius takes the key from his jacket pocket. Unlocks the door. He is still alone.

9 INT. HOTEL – HALLWAY – NIGHT 9
Cornelius cautiously walks back out into the corridor, now brightly lit and less sparse.
The door slams behind him. He turns his heel towards the door, slams on it in anger.

CORNELIUS:

(spits)
You pigeon-livered wagtail, I insist you reveal yourself! Open now so that I may anoint you, wretch!

A moment of silence. The lock clicks.

10 INT. HOTEL ROOM – NIGHT 10

Cornelius nudges the door. A child stabbed to death on the carpet. Alice’s corpse leans against a smashed desk behind the corpse of the little boy. Her eyes and mouth stuffed with dead, purple roses. The corpse of another man naked from the waist down is impaled on the horns of the goat.
A chair lies on its side, in the exact place Cornelius left it in his nightmare. He drops to his knees and covers his face. His cries are muffled.
Seven loud knocks sound at the door.
Cornelius gets back on his feet and collects himself. He gazes across at the cadaver of his adulterous wife, blankly. Then turns to face the impaled man, chuckles.

CORNELIUS:

Lobcock.

THE CONCIERGE (O.S):

Sir! A number of our guests heard wails, are you well?

The Concierge enters, freezes at the sight of the bloodbath.
Cornelius leans against the window. Torrential rain falls against the sound of thunder. He reaches into his pocket to retrieve matches and a cigar.

CORNELIUS:

Lad, I have no doubt that I require a doctor.

Cornelius takes a puff and exhales.

CUT TO BLACK

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